Why I Send My Kids to Summer Camp

Let me just get this off my chest. I am not a camper. My family did not camp. The couple of camping experiences I had were rainy. Very. Rainy.

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The church and girl guide camps I went to didn’t endear me either. I am not particularly fond of the great outdoors. I hate playing games of any kind. I got homesick.

Perhaps I gave up too soon. So why then, did I encourage my kids to go to summer camp?

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1. Strangely, I still like the idea of camp. Stories taking place at camp and boarding schools were some of my favourites. Maybe the idea of no parents was intriguing. I also noticed that many kids who went away to camp and liked it, were campers for life. Somewhere there was a grain of truth to camp being a good thing and I wanted to find it for my kids.

2. Camp is very different from when I went to camp, many eons ago. Adventure awaits, not crafts. Well there are crafts for those who want them but when I went, it seemed to this non-crafty person, a main feature. As mentioned, I am not outdoorsy partly due to the fact I am allergic to trees, grass, dust, animals, etc. That pretty much makes up a lot of the outdoors. Also as previously stated, NOT a gamer.
But today’s camp? Adventures to test your mettle await. It might scare you silly but who cares? Rock climbing walls, high ropes, and all kinds of other challenging things for kids to try that they don’t necessarily get to do at home. Maybe that’s what I was looking for as a kid. I wanted to prove myself. Today’s campers get to do that if they so choose. (And maybe I just went to the wrong camps!)

3. Kids learn to get along. There is always someone in the cabin who rubs you the wrong way. It’s Murphy’s Law. The cabins are tight quarters so you learn very quickly, to put up with them or work it out. This is a skill that our kids will take with them into adulthood and use many times. More adults should go to camp and learn this skill.

4. Kids learn independence. My kids suddenly learned skills they didn’t (and I didn’t) know they could do like wash dishes! They had to learn to keep track of their stuff and pack it all up to go home. They learned that they could work through homesickness and have a feeling of pride that they made it to the end of the week. This in turn, lets them know they have what it takes to endure, and persevere.

5. Even though I don’t like the outdoors all that much, I want my kids to. Camp provides them with a beautiful setting and lets them see and appreciate nature and God’s creation. They learn to respect it and how to live in it. They see the beauty and the danger. It creates a sense of wonder and awe, even if it’s momentary.

6. In today’s tech age, camp provides a reprieve from it all; Instragram, Facebook, Twitter and whatever else kids are on these days. Camp pries the phone from their fingers and puts it in Time Out. They get the chance to look up, breathe and actually see their surroundings. They have to talk to someone face-to-face at camp. They get to laugh and clown around with other kids, without a phone in their hand to take a selfie.

7. Camp gives kids a chance to discover their own personality. Without parental eyes looking over their shoulders, they have a chance to loosen up and try new things and test out behaviours. (Sorry counsellors!)

8. Finally camp opens up a new world. They meet new people from different cities. They learn about their new friends’ worlds. They try new things and foods. They learn about leadership and take away a few lessons of their own. We’ve had many discussions about what they like in a leader and what they don’t. What they might emulate when they are in a leadership position. Camp shows them that there is a bigger world out there and endless possibilities.

So that’s why I send my kids to camp. I want them to be campers. Call me crazy. That being said, we chose the camp our kids go to very carefully. As parents we are trusting our children into the care of these people. You want to make sure they are going to be safe because stuff happens. It’s a good idea to talk to people who went to the camp as campers or their parents. I was familiar with the camp as it was near a cottage we rent.

It’s also a good idea to review with your kids about what is appropriate and what is not. Secrets are not okay. Hopefully, they vet the workers but why not be preventative? Some things to think about if you are considering sending your kids to camp.  We all want it to be a positive experience, right?

I prayed hard before and while they were at camp.  They may not be an arm’s length away from me but they are never out of their Father’s hands.

Finally, I do want to thank all the people who volunteer and work at camps. This is a calling and I, for one, am thankful for those who are called because I am not. The cabin leaders and other volunteers can make a difference in a life.  You have much influence.  So thank you.

Until next year…

 

Let Go & Let God

I’m not sure who coined that phrase but it’s often said frequently and with very little thought.

We let it slide off our tongues like syrup. Meant to comfort others and advise them. As parents, it’s harder to take our own advice.

As a mom, we don’t always want to let God do His thing. We want to hang on tightly to our kids, not let go.

We want to keep them safe. We want to keep them happy. We want to keep them successful in the worldly sense.

Evil lurks around every corner. We know this. We do not want to let God and let go….

I’m sharing over at Raising Generations Today this morning.  You can read rest of the blog here.  Enjoy and be sure to check out information for their Thrive conference in the fall.

Love, Mom

Dear Beloved Child of mine,

You are loved. You are loved far more than you can ever imagine. You will never understand the sacrifice of that love until you are a parent to your own beloved child. This is how it should be.

Because of my love for you, You are more important than anything this world has to offer. In the end, all the successes, all the failures are not as significant as I thought. They are fleeting and empty but I get distracted by them. I have to remind myself what really matters.

I made a list….

Read more here at Raising Generation Today where I’m sharing today.

JenniferWillcock.LoveMom

Embracing Other Moms

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17 NLT

When my boys were teeny tiny, I was fortunate enough to be in a community that ran a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. The church I attended hosted MOPS, but the group was open to the community and a lot of women came with their children. It was a life saviour for me, providing two hours of grown-up time with other moms while the kiddos went into their groups to learn and play.

It’s also where I met some of my best friends….

To read more click here.  I’m sharing over at Raising Generations Today.

jenniferwillcock-embracingothermoms

The Beauty of Unique

Some people think I’m crazy because I like winter. There’s something magical about snow, especially the first snowfall. It falls like a blanket over the city, muting the noise and casting an ethereal beauty. If it’s nighttime it’s even better because the silence is deafening and the black night and white snow contrast each other perfectly….

I’m sharing over at Raising Generations Today.  Please come on over and read the whole article here: http://www.raisinggenerationstoday.com/the-beauty-of-unique/

 

The Hard Choices that Build a Home

This fall has been a series of hard decisions. Choices for good things and others, not so great. Some have been parenting decisions, others personal. They follow on the heels of one another, like a conveyor belt of choice.

I hate making decisions. I have a tendency to put them off. My brain feels muddled and I can’t think straight. I doubt myself. Anyone else do that?

Some decisions and situations can’t be put off. They involve other people and answers have to be given. What to do?

There wasn’t a clear cut path for any of our decisions. Unfortunately, for a couple, it involved saying no to something that was greatly desired. It physically hurt to utter the word no and then follow through.

It’s so tempting to do the easy thing. At the moment, saying yes is the easy way out for me even though the consequences of the yes are anything but easy. But in this moment, yes is enticing. No is a prickly thorn.

I feel like a juggler, trying to keep all the balls flying around me, up in the air. If one more thing is thrown at me, I’ll drop them all. I don’t want to follow the narrow path of doing what is right for us as a family. It takes too much effort and I just don’t have it in me to fight yet another fight. I think. I wrote in an email to a friend, something to the effect; Parenting is sometimes really brutal. So is following God.

The angst and the sleeplessness won’t go away and that tells me that I don’t have a choice. We have to step up and do the hard thing. The very lessons I’m trying to teach our boys are being brought home to my own heart. We are not supposed to be like everyone else. It might get uncomfortable. Doing the hard thing is exactly that; hard. It’s part of the landscape of being parents, and Christ followers.

I’m learning that it’s not my job to please others, even at times my own loved ones. Paul writes in 1 Cor 10:23, Looking at it one way, you could say, “Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.” But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well. The Message.

It’s my job to teach and model for my family what a healthy life looks like. What a Follower of Jesus looks like. That is my purpose as a mom and as a Christian to fight for those I love. I am grateful I don’t have to wage war alone. I am blessed to have warriors by my side and a God who has said He will never leave me.

I stumbled on this verse yesterday. It’s not one I’m familiar with but I really liked it.

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; though knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24:3-4

That’s the kind of house and home, I want to build. Not everyone is going to like it or agree with me. That’s okay, I’m still going to build it. This house will have a foundation of hard decisions, explanations, love and grit. I’m trusting it’s going to stand the test of time.

Treasures from a Trip of Remembrance

(Before you read the blog, I just want to draw your attention to the beautiful header on my site and the logo you’ve been seeing.  A huge thank you goes to my very talented friend, Ben Guse who designed it for me!  I love it!  Thank you Ben!)

Now here’s the blog:

I was on a quest this morning. The boys had been asking about old class pictures. I couldn’t find them. After a major move, when you can’t find something you start to get a little worried. Either it eventually turns up or it’s gone.

After another conversation about the said pictures last night, I made it my mission to find them this morning. Closets, bins and boxes were searched. Where were they? I knew I had not knowingly thrown them out. I went back to the only place I could think they would be even though I had looked quickly in the bin already. The scrapbooking bin.  I haven’t really touched it in five years!

I pulled it out into the light and started sorting through it. Eureka! They they were halfway in. Breathing a sigh of relief I put them aside but kept going through the papers and pictures. I was having some fun looking at some of the treasures I hadn’t seen in a while.

 

Besides the class photos, I found a few things I wasn’t expecting.

Friendships. Some have endured and others have not. But every single person in those pictures brought something to my life. Friends are like that, right? Some really are for a season but it doesn’t mean their impact is any less. It was so good to see some old friends smiling up at me. We had some really fun times together. We really don’t have any idea how we make an imprint on other people’s lives. When we don’t have those relationships, we become barren and dry.

Hope. As I sorted and remembered I was filled with hope. Some pictures were of experiences and relationships that were hard. Some were awesome.  That’s life.  I realize sitting here, that if we let the bad go, the good does endure.  Through it all, as I remember, I believe that nothing happened that surprised God. That every step was taken with Him present. Many in the different places we have lived, have moved on and grown. Some of the journeys have been very difficult but here we are. Still standing. For some of us, we’re leaning on others but we are still standing. There is abundant hope in that.

Healing. Pictures of little boys smiling. Eyes dancing. They made me think, “We did have some fun, those boys and I.” I wouldn’t have said that a few years ago or even some months ago. For a long time I could not look at photos of the tiny boys because they made me sad. I didn’t like the person I was at that time. All I saw was a bad mom. Today I didn’t see that. I saw the good. Forts and campfires. Endless days of Thomas. Play dough. Days filled with play. Yes there were some really hard days but they are starting to fade. Today I found some truth to hang onto. A realization that it wasn’t all bad. Today I believe that.

Gratefulness. I found some thank you notes for serving in ministry. Reading them made me feel grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to do some pretty amazing things in ministry. I feel grateful for the many fabulous people I’ve worked with and gotten to know. Their belief in me when I didn’t have faith in myself, was such a gift. It pushed me to do things I would have run away from. We had some fun. Boy, did we!

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Purpose. Those thank you notes also opened my eyes to the fact what we do makes a difference in other’s lives too. It’s easy to forget. We often don’t realize how our actions and words can make a positive difference to someone else. How God takes our gifts and uses them in ways we can’t even imagine. Too often, and I’m so guilty of this, we like to hide our gifts and ignore our purpose because it’s just easier to do so. We can’t give in to that. We make a difference in our spheres of influence. Big or small.

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Goodness. I found some tickets and conference notes. Pictures of new places. I was blessed to be able to go to some really good conferences back in the late 2000’s. MOPS near Dallas, National Pastor’s Conference in San Diego and Just Between Us Pastor’s Wives’ Conference in Nashville. All three had significant impact on my life at that time when kids were little and leaving was hard. But worth it. They were gifts to me. Gifts of friendship, of learning and of travel. The gift and hope of seeing a better future. In some dark times, these were good things.

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I hadn’t planned on taking a walk down memory lane today. Sometimes we find ourselves in unexpected places. It might be a chance to remember and reflect about what has played out in the past and what we hope for the future. Maybe you are at that place. It’s time for you to take a little trip of remembrance. Or maybe it’s time for a new perspective. Time to see the good and give thanks. Wherever you are today, I hope you remember the good and it fills you with hope for a better future.

Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me.
Isaiah 46:9 NLT